Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT V. - The Winter’s Tale
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
ACT V. - William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Sicilia. A Room in the Palace ofLeontes.
EnterLeontes, Cleomenes, Dion, Paulina,and others.
Sir, you have done enough, and have perform’d
A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make
Which you have not redeem’d; indeed, paid down
More penitence than done trespass. At the last,
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them forgive yourself.
Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them, and so still think of
The wrong I did myself; which was so much,
That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and
Destroy’d the sweet’st companion that e’er man
Bred his hopes out of.
True, too true, my lord;
If one by one you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good,
To make a perfect woman, she you kill’d
Would be unparallel’d.
I think so. Kill’d!
She I kill’d! I did so; but thou strik’st me
Sorely to say I did: it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought. Now, good now
Say so but seldom.
Not at all, good lady:
You might have spoken a thousand things that would
Have done the time more benefit, and grac’d
Your kindness better.
You are one of those
Would have him wed again.
If you would not so,
You pity not the state, nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name; consider little
What dangers, by his highness’ fail of issue,
May drop upon his kingdom and devour
Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than for royalty’s repair,
For present comfort, and for future good,
To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to’t?
There is none worthy,
Respecting her that’s gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfill’d their secret purposes;
For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is’t not the tenour of his oracle,
That King Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? which that it shall,
Is all as monstrous to our human reason
As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me; who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. ’Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills.—[ToLeontes.] Care not for issue;
The crown will find an heir: great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest, so his successor
Was like to be the best.
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
I know, in honour; O! that ever I
Had squar’d me to thy counsel! then, even now,
I might have look’d upon my queen’s full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips,—
And left them
More rich, for what they yielded.
Thou speak’st truth.
No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse,
And better us’d, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse and on this stage,—
Where we’re offenders now,—appear soul-vex’d,
And begin, ‘Why to me?’
Had she such power,
She had just cause.
She had; and would incense me
To murder her I married.
I should so:
Were I the ghost that walk’d, I’d bid you mark
Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in’t
You chose her; then I’d shriek, that even your ears
Should rift to hear me; and the words that follow’d
Should be ‘Remember mine.’
And all eyes else dead coals. Fear thou no wife;
I’ll have no wife, Paulina.
Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave?
Never, Paulina: so be bless’d my spirit!
Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
You tempt him over much.
As like Hermione as is her picture,
Affront his eye.
I have done.
Yet, if my lord will marry,—if you will, sir,
No remedy, but you will,—give me the office
To choose you a queen, she shall not be so young
As was your former; but she shall be such
As, walk’d your first queen’s ghost, it should take joy
To see her in your arms.
My true Paulina,
We shall not marry till thou bidd’st us.
Shall be when your first queen’s again in breath;
Never till then.
Enter a Gentleman.
One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,
Son of Polixenes, with his princess,—she
The fairest I have yet beheld,—desires access
To your high presence.
What with him? he comes not
Like to his father’s greatness; his approach,
So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
’Tis not a visitation fram’d, but forc’d
By need and accident. What train?
And those but mean.
His princess, say you, with him?
Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
That e’er the sun shone bright on.
As every present time doth boast itself
Above a better gone, so must thy grave
Give way to what’s seen now. Sir, you yourself
Have said and writ so,—but your writing now
Is colder than that theme,—‘She had not been,
Nor was not to be equall’d;’ thus your verse
Flow’d with her beauty once: ’tis shrewdly ebb’d
To say you have seen a better.
The one I have almost forgot—your pardon—
The other, when she has obtain’d your eye,
Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
Of all professors else, make proselytes
Of who she but bid follow.
How! not women?
Women will love her, that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.
Yourself, assisted with your honour’d friends,
Bring them to our embracement. Still ’tis strange,
[ExeuntCleomenes, Lords, and Gentleman.
He thus should steal upon us.
Had our prince—
Jewel of children—seen this hour, he had pair’d
Well with this lord: there was not full a month
Between their births.
Prithee, no more: cease! thou know’st
He dies to me again when talk’d of: sure,
When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
Will bring me to consider that which may
Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.
Re-enterCleomenes,withFlorizel, Perdita,and Others.
Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,
Your father’s image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him; and speak of something wildly
By us perform’d before. Most dearly welcome!
And you, fair princess,—goddess! O, alas!
I lost a couple, that ’twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood begetting wonder as
You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost—
All mine own folly—the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.
By his command
Have I here touch’d Sicilia; and from him
Give you all greetings that a king, at friend,
Can send his brother: and, but infirmity,—
Which waits upon worn times,—hath something seiz’d
His wish’d ability, he had himself
The land and waters ’twixt your throne and his
Measur’d to look upon you, whom he loves—
He bade me say so—more than all the sceptres
And those that bear them living.
O, my brother!—
Good gentleman,—the wrongs I have done thee stir
Afresh within me, and these thy offices
So rarely kind, are as interpreters
Of my behind-hand slackness! Welcome hither,
As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too
Expos’d this paragon to the fearful usage—
At least ungentle—of the dreadful Neptune,
To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
The adventure of her person?
Good my lord,
She came from Libya.
Where the war-like Smalus,
That noble honour’d lord, is fear’d and lov’d?
Most royal sir, from thence; from him, whose daughter
His tears proclaim’d his, parting with her: thence—
A prosperous south-wind friendly—we have cross’d,
To execute the charge my father gave me
For visiting your highness: my best train
I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss’d;
Who for Bohemia bend, to signify
Not only my success in Libya, sir,
But my arrival and my wife’s, in safety
Here where we are.
The blessed gods
Purge all infection from our air whilst you
Do climate here! You have a holy father,
A graceful gentleman; against whose person,
So sacred as it is, I have done sin:
For which the heavens, taking angry note,
Have left me issueless; and your father’s bless’d—
As he from heaven merits it—with you,
Worthy his goodness. What might I have been,
Might I a son and daughter now have look’d on,
Such goodly things as you!
Enter a Lord.
Most noble sir,
That which I shall report will bear no credit,
Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,
Bohemia greets you from himself by me;
Desires you to attach his son, who has—
His dignity and duty both cast off—
Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with
A shepherd’s daughter.
Where’s Bohemia? speak.
Here in your city; I now came from him:
I speak amazedly, and it becomes
My marvel and my message. To your court
Whiles he was hastening,—in the chase it seems
Of this fair couple,—meets he on the way
The father of this seeming lady and
Her brother, having both their country quitted
With this young prince.
Camillo has betray’d me;
Whose honour and whose honesty till now
Endur’d all weathers.
Lay’t so to his charge:
He’s with the king your father.
Camillo, sir: I spake with him, who now
Has these poor men in question. Never saw I
Wretches so quake: they kneel, they kiss the earth,
Forswear themselves as often as they speak:
Bohemia stops his ears, and threatens them
With divers deaths in death.
O my poor father!
The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have
Our contract celebrated.
You are married?
We are not, sir, nor are we like to be;
The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first:
The odds for high and low’s alike.
Is this the daughter of a king?
When once she is my wife.
That ‘once,’ I see, by your good father’s speed,
Will come on very slowly. I am sorry,
Most sorry, you have broken from his liking
Where you were tied in duty; and as sorry
Your choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,
That you might well enjoy her.
Dear, look up:
Though Fortune, visible an enemy,
Should chase us with my father, power no jot
Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,
Remember since you ow’d no more to time
Than I do now; with thought of such affections,
Step forth mine advocate; at your request
My father will grant precious things as trifles
Would he do so, I’d beg your precious mistress,
Which he counts but a trifle.
Sir, my liege,
Your eye hath too much youth in’t: not a month
’Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazes
Than what you look on now.
I thought of her,
Even in these looks I made. [ToFlorizel.] But your petition
Is yet unanswer’d. I will to your father:
Your honour not o’erthrown by your desires,
I am friend to them and you; upon which errand
I now go toward him. Therefore follow me,
And mark what way I make: come, good my lord.
The Same. Before the Palace.
EnterAutolycusand a Gentleman.
Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?
I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how he found it: whereupon, after a little amazedness, we were all commanded out of the chamber; only this methought I heard the shepherd say, he found the child.
I would most gladly know the issue of it.
I make a broken delivery of the business; but the changes I perceived in the king and Camillo were very notes of admiration: they seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear the cases of their eyes; there was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture; they looked as they had heard of a world ransomed, or one destroyed: a notable passion of wonder appeared in them; but the wisest beholder, that knew no more but seeing, could not say if the importance were joy or sorrow; but in the extremity of the one it must needs be.
Enter another Gentleman.
Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more. The news, Rogero?
Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the king’s daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is broken out within this hour that ballad-makers cannot be able to express it.
Enter a third Gentleman.
Here comes the lady Paulina’s steward: he can deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this news which is called true is so like an old tale, that the verity of it is in strong suspicion: has the king found his heir?
Most true, if ever truth were pregnant by circumstance: that which you hear you’ll swear you see, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle of Queen Hermione, her jewel about the neck of it, the letters of Antigonus found with it, which they know to be his character; the majesty of the creature in resemblance of the mother, the affection of nobleness which nature shows above her breeding, and many other evidences proclaim her with all certainty to be the king’s daughter. Did you see the meeting of the two kings?
Then have you lost a sight, which was to be seen, cannot be spoken of. There might you have beheld one joy crown another, so, and in such manner that, it seemed, sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their joy waded in tears. There was casting up of eyes, holding up of hands, with countenances of such distraction that they were to be known by garment, not by favour. Our king, being ready to leap out of himself for joy of his found daughter, as if that joy were now become a loss, cries, ‘O, thy mother, thy mother!’ then asks Bohemia forgiveness; then embraces his son-in-law; then again worries he his daughter with clipping her; now he thanks the old shepherd, which stands by like a weather-bitten conduit of many kings’ reigns. I never heard of such another encounter, which lames report to follow it and undoes description to do it.
What, pray you, became of Antigonus that carried hence the child?
Like an old tale still, which will have matter to rehearse, though credit be asleep and not an ear open. He was torn to pieces with a bear: this avouches the shepherd’s son, who has not only his innocence—which seems much—to justify him, but a handkerchief and rings of his that Paulina knows.
What became of his bark and his followers?
Wracked, the same instant of their master’s death, and in the view of the shepherd: so that all the instruments which aided to expose the child were even then lost when it was found. But, O! the noble combat that ’twixt joy and sorrow was fought in Paulina. She had one eye declined for the loss of her husband, another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled: she lifted the princess from the earth, and so locks her in embracing, as if she would pin her to her heart that she might no more be in danger of losing.
The dignity of this act was worth the audience of kings and princes, for by such was it acted.
One of the prettiest touches of all, and that which angled for mine eyes,—caught the water though not the fish,—was when at the relation of the queen’s death, with the manner how she came to it,—bravely confessed and lamented by the king,—how attentiveness wounded his daughter; till, from one sign of dolour to another, she did, with an ‘alas!’ I would fain say, bleed tears, for I am sure my heart wept blood. Who was most marble there changed colour; some swounded, all sorrowed: if all the world could have seen’t, the woe had been universal.
Are they returned to the court?
No; the princess hearing of her mother’s statue, which is in the keeping of Paulina—a piece many years in doing, and now newly performed by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano; who, had he himself eternity and could put breath into his work, would beguile Nature of her custom, so perfectly he is her ape: he so near to Hermione hath done Hermione that they say one would speak to her and stand in hope of answer: thither with all greediness of affection are they gone, and there they intend to sup.
I thought she had some great matter there in hand, for she hath privately, twice or thrice a day, ever since the death of Hermione, visited that removed house. Shall we thither and with our company piece the rejoicing?
Who would be thence that has the benefit of access? every wink of an eye some new grace will be born: our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge. Let’s along.
Now, had I not the dash of my former life in me, would preferment drop on my head. I brought the old man and his son aboard the prince; told him I heard them talk of a fardel and I know not what; but he at that time, overfond of the shepherd’s daughter,—so he then took her to be,—who began to be much sea-sick, and himself little better, extremity of weather continuing, this mystery remained undiscovered. But ’tis all one to me; for had I been the finder out of this secret, it would not have relished among my other discredits. Here come those I have done good to against my will, and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.
Enter Shepherd and Clown.
Come, boy; I am past moe children, but thy sons and daughters will be all gentlemen born.
You are well met, sir. You denied to fight with me this other day, because I was no gentleman born: see you these clothes? say, you see them not and think me still no gentleman born: you were best say these robes are not gentleman born. Give me the lie, do, and try whether I am not now gentleman born.
I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.
Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.
And so have I, boy.
So you have: but I was a gentleman born before my father; for the king’s son took me by the hand and called me brother; and then the two kings called my father brother; and then the prince my brother and the princess my sister called my father father; and so we wept: and there was the first gentleman-like tears that ever we shed.
We may live, son, to shed many more.
Ay; or else ’twere hard luck, being in so preposterous estate as we are.
I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me all the faults I have committed to your worship, and to give me your good report to the prince my master.
Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are gentlemen.
Thou wilt amend thy life?
Ay, an it like your good worship.
Give me thy hand: I will swear to the prince thou art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.
You may say it, but not swear it.
Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and franklins say it, I’ll swear it.
How if it be false, son?
If it be ne’er so false, a true gentleman may swear it in the behalf of his friend: and I’ll swear to the prince thou art a tall fellow of thy hands and that thou wilt not be drunk; but I know thou art no tall fellow of thy hands and that thou wilt be drunk: but I’ll swear it, and I would thou wouldst be a tall fellow of thy hands.
I will prove so, sir, to my power.
Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow: if I do not wonder how thou darest venture to be drunk, not being a tall fellow, trust me not. Hark! the kings and the princes, our kindred, are going to see the queen’s picture. Come, follow us: we’ll be thy good masters.
The Same. A Chapel inPaulina’sHouse.
EnterLeontes, Polixenes, Florizel, Perdita, Camillo, Paulina, Lords, and Attendants.
O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort
That I have had of thee!
What, sovereign sir,
I did not well, I meant well. All my services
You have paid home; but that you have vouchsaf’d,
With your crown’d brother and these your contracted
Heirs of your kingdoms, my poor house to visit,
It is a surplus of your grace, which never
My life may last to answer.
We honour you with trouble: but we came
To see the statue of our queen: your gallery
Have we pass’d through, not without much content
In many singularities, but we saw not
That which my daughter came to look upon,
The statue of her mother.
As she liv’d peerless,
So her dead likeness, I do well believe,
Excels whatever yet you look’d upon
Or hand of man hath done; therefore I keep it
Lonely, apart. But here it is: prepare
To see the life as lively mock’d as ever
Still sleep mock’d death: behold! and say ’tis well.
[Paulinadraws back a curtain, and discoversHermioneas a statue.
I like your silence: it the more shows off
Your wonder; but yet speak: first you, my liege.
Comes it not something near?
Her natural posture!
Chide me, dear stone, that I may say, indeed
Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she
In thy not chiding, for she was as tender
As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled; nothing
So aged as this seems.
O! not by much.
So much the more our carver’s excellence;
Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her
As she liv’d now.
As now she might have done,
So much to my good comfort, as it is
Now piercing to my soul. O! thus she stood,
Even with such life of majesty,—warm life,
As now it coldly stands,—when first I woo’d her.
I am asham’d: does not the stone rebuke me
For being more stone than it? O, royal piece!
There’s magic in thy majesty, which has
My evils conjur’d to remembrance, and
From thy admiring daughter took the spirits,
Standing like stone with thee.
And give me leave,
And do not say ’tis superstition, that
I kneel and then implore her blessing. Lady,
Dear queen, that ended when I but began,
Give me that hand of yours to kiss.
The statue is but newly fix’d, the colour’s
My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
So many summers dry: scarce any joy
Did ever so long live; no sorrow
But kill’d itself much sooner.
Dear my brother,
Let him that was the cause of this have power
To take off so much grief from you as he
Will piece up in himself.
Indeed, my lord,
If I had thought the sight of my poor image
Would thus have wrought you,—for the stone is mine,—
I’d not have show’d it.
Do not draw the curtain.
No longer shall you gaze on’t, lest your fancy
May think anon it moves.
Let be, let be!
Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already—
What was he that did make it? See, my lord,
Would you not deem it breath’d, and that those veins
Did verily bear blood?
The very life seems warm upon her lip.
The fixure of her eye has motion in’t,
As we are mock’d with art.
I’ll draw the curtain;
My lord’s almost so far transported that
He’ll think anon it lives.
O sweet Paulina!
Make me to think so twenty years together:
No settled senses of the world can match
The pleasure of that madness. Let’t alone.
I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirr’d you: but
I could afflict you further.
For this affliction has a taste as sweet
As any cordial comfort. Still, methinks,
There is an air comes from her: what fine chisel
Could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me,
For I will kiss her.
Good my lord, forbear.
The ruddiness upon her lip is wet:
You’ll mar it if you kiss it; stain your own
With oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain?
No, not these twenty years.
So long could I
Stand by, a looker-on.
Quit presently the chapel, or resolve you
For more amazement. If you can behold it,
I’ll make the statue move indeed, descend,
And take you by the hand; but then you’ll think,—
Which I protest against,—I am assisted
By wicked powers.
What you can make her do,
I am content to look on: what to speak,
I am content to hear; for ’tis as easy
To make her speak as move.
It is requir’d
You do awake your faith. Then, all stand still;
Or those that think it is unlawful business
I am about, let them depart.
No foot shall stir.
Music, awake her: strike!
’Tis time; descend; be stone no more: approach;
Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come;
I’ll fill your grave up: stir; nay, come away;
Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him
Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs:
Start not; her actions shall be holy as
You hear my spell is lawful: do not shun her
Until you see her die again, for then
You kill her double. Nay, present your hand:
When she was young you woo’d her; now in age
Is she become the suitor!
[Embracing her.] O! she’s warm.
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.
She embraces him.
She hangs about his neck:
If she pertain to life let her speak too.
Ay; and make’t manifest where she has liv’d,
Or how stol’n from the dead.
That she is living,
Were it but told you, should be hooted at
Like an old tale; but it appears she lives,
Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.
Please you to interpose, fair madam. kneel
And pray your mother’s blessing. Turn, good lady;
Our Perdita is found.
[PresentingPerdita,who kneels toHermione.
You gods, look down,
And from your sacred vials pour your graces
Upon my daughter’s head! Tell me, mine own,
Where hast thou been preserv’d? where liv’d? how found
Thy father’s court? for thou shalt hear that I,
Knowing by Paulina that the oracle
Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserv’d
Myself to see the issue.
There’s time enough for that;
Lest they desire upon this push to trouble
Your joys with like relation. Go together,
You precious winners all: your exultation
Partake to every one. I, an old turtle,
Will wing me to some wither’d bough, and there
My mate, that’s never to be found again,
Lament till I am lost.
O! peace, Paulina.
Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,
As I by thine a wife: this is a match,
And made between’s by vows. Thou hast found mine;
But how, is to be question’d; for I saw her,
As I thought dead, and have in vain said many
A prayer upon her grave. I’ll not seek far,—
For him, I partly know his mind,—to find thee
An honourable husband. Come, Camillo,
And take her by the hand; whose worth and honesty
Is richly noted, and here justified
By us, a pair of kings. Let’s from this place.
What! look upon my brother: both your pardons,
That e’er I put between your holy looks
My ill suspicion. This’ your son-in-law,
And son unto the king,—whom heavens directing,
Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina,
Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely
Each one demand and answer to his part
Perform’d in this wide gap of time since first
We were dissever’d: hastily lead away.